|British Annual Influence on American Annuals
A few American authors, such as Lydia H. Sigourney and N. P. Willis, made contributions to British annuals, but many British works were printed in American annuals. With respect to illustrations, the American annuals rarely equaled the best of their English prototypes. Figure 2-4 shows the relative rise and fall in the publication of annuals in England and America respectively. There are totals of about 220 British annuals and 469 American annuals displayed in this figure. Only original American annuals are shown because many were reissued.
British authors were well known and popular in America from the British annuals and the pirated reprints. As late as 1847, in The Prose Writers of America, Rufus Griswold, the editor, implied that American literature was not free from the tyranny of British example as shown in Table 2-3. British authors constitute almost a fifth of the authors with more than five American annual publications. It is interesting to compare the relative popularity of favored British authors in the American annuals compared to the number of items that they published in their British annuals. Below is a listing of the top ten American choices of British authors:
1 Felicia Hemans 81 (164) 6 James Montgomery 47 (114)
2 Maria Abdy 65 (93) 7 Charles Swain 43 (97)
3 Mary R.Mitford 49 (118) 8 Agnes Strickland 39 (88)
4 Letitia Landon 47 (527) 9 Anna Maria Hall 39 (82)
5 Mary Howitt 47 (237) 10 Barry Cornwall 37 (114)
The numbers after each author represent the number of items that were published in American annuals (Table 2-1) followed by the number of items (within parentheses) they published in British annuals (Table 3-2). It is interesting that Felicia Hemans was more published in America than Letitia Landon and Mary Howitt, whose British annual appearances far exceed hers. The second most popular poet is Maria Abdy with about 74 percent of her publications appearing in American annuals. This presents an Anglo-American dimension that shows a difference in British and American literary tastes that could have research potential.
Comparison of the Index with the American annual index by Kirkham and Finks' reveals that at least 39 percent of the American annuals contain previously published contributions from British ones. There is also a strong showing of British authors in the American annuals (33 out of the 103 most published authors). Of the 507 authors publishing five or more items, 107 were British authors and their works constituted 21 percent or 1,690 out of 7,496 items. Women edited about 40 percent of the British annuals, and this compares favorably with the American statistics as far as female participation; however, there was a much more concentrated nucleus of authors of British annuals than for the American annuals. It is not coincidence that about 75 percent of the most popular British and American authors are women. The audience to whom the annuals appealed was the women of both nations. It was a time when women were increasingly regarded as the moral center of both American and British societies. The movement was part of a nineteenth-century "cult of domesticity" in which women were both elevated and denigrated (Repplier 197).